How to Have a Successful Online Therapy Session

Preparation makes a big difference!

If you’ve ever had a friend drop in unexpectedly, perhaps you made the best of it. Maybe you had a variety of beverages at hand, and some delectable finger-food to arrange hastily on a tray. Or maybe all you had was bottled water and that box of Bugles that had been pushed to the back of the pantry sometime during the Obama Administration.

What’s my point?

If you are going to participate in online counseling services – that may include clinical hypnosis – a little preparation will go a long way towards you feeling comfortable and satisfied with the process.

Terry Moore - headset on!
Terry Moore

I have to admit something

I didn’t think, originally, that any of this would persist in the world as it clearly has. As I write this in late June 2020 [and review it in early ’22], I would have thought we’d all be going to concerts, restaurants, and the grocery store without a second thought. For me at this moment, going to the grocery store continues to feel like a small commando operation: planning, masks, a strategic movement through a socially distanced world where I still can’t find Clorox disinfecting wipes [okay, this is slightly easier now!]. It’s all just a little weird – like I’m an extra in some dystopian TV show.

But, this is where we are at. At this moment, states that re-opened beaches, bars, and other venues are reporting an explosion of Covid-19 cases. Places are re-closing. Hospitals are filling up again.

So

We have to take charge of what we can. We can stay informed, and act accordingly – for ourselves, our families, and for those we interact with.

I continue to conduct most of my work over telehealth services. With the Omicron variant in circulation, all of us [regardless of vaccination status] are vulnerable. We can talk over the prospect of coming into the office for future sessions – but I hope all of us will exercise caution and flexibility.  

We’ll monitor the situation, and act accordingly. It is helpful that the rules and regs we operate under have accommodated telehealth services. And, insurance carriers and Employee Assistance Programs are willing to reimburse providers for telehealth. Call your company directly with your questions – each company is different in how they handle these claims. Given what is happening in the world, I expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.

Here’s what you need for a great session

  • Time: session time plus about 15 minutes ahead of time to arrange the environment and to test your technology setup
  • Safe spot: this does vary from home to home! Some people can successfully sit in the family room at 1pm, and the only distraction will be a cat. Others will find a bedroom, a home office, or the computer desk in the basement to be better. What you want is quiet, and privacy. Minimize distractions where possible
  • Decent lighting. Most of us live in homes where the chairs are in front to the windows, and the chairs are facing ‘in’. But pointing your laptop/iPad/smartphone at yourself in that chair will give you no more than a shadowy silhouette. Not good for the therapist trying to monitor your emotions! So try several seating/lighting combos – until you get something viable.
  • You don’t need the latest flagship device from the coolest makers – but your device must be robust enough to handle 45 to 50 minutes of video data. Plug in to the charger, or charge in advance.
  • You need an Internet connection that you can count on: 3G, 4G, 5G, WiFi, or a plug-in from the router [my favorite!] If you Google the phrase “How do I test my WiFi signal” – you will earn a college degree before you get to the end of the page. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the topic. It’s worth it to figure this out! If your signal is weak or unstable, the audio stream will drop words, and the picture will pixelate or freeze. Not helpful!
  • If you want to make sure that you’re ready, you can review all the details here on the Zoom website. I’m almost exclusively using Zoom for Healthcare for sessions. I think it is stable, secure, and has a short learning curve. Chances are you’ve already been using it for work, socializing with friends, or your kids have used it for school. They’ll show you how!
  • In addition to being seen – you want to both hear and be heard. Dig out the headset you use for gaming. Plug in the earbuds that came with your phone [if it has a port – those are going away!]. Or, charge up the Bluetooth device you got two holiday seasons ago – the ones you thought you’d never use. Charge ’em up and make sure you are ‘paired’ with your device. Luckily, some devices have great speakers and microphones built right in – so if that works, we’ll go with it!

 

Girls first Ski Jump – Facing Fear

Before you play the video – please be aware that the video starts off quietly, and later gets very loud. This is because the girl featured here starts off sounding timid – and later shouts out her delight with her jump.

I was talking with someone today about facing fear, especially in social settings. What popped into my mind was a video that psychologist Reid Wilson, PhD, had mentioned in a training module that I viewed recently. Dr. Wilson mentioned that we are often blocked by our personal dialogue, and the anxiety that it generates.

We have to be willing to [as Wilson says] ‘take the hit’ that anxiety dishes out. Then we find out what we are really capable of doing.

Need help with this? Give a call – let’s talk it over.

Journalism Resource Guide on Behavioral Health – SAMHSA News

Journalism resource guide – from The Carter Center

Journalists will find this new resource a helpful tool when reporting stories that include individuals with behavioral health concerns. The Carter Center published the Journalism Resource Guide on Behavioral Health that aims to increase accurate reporting of behavioral health issues, decrease stereotypes, and help reporters better understand mental health and substance use issues. The guide …

Source: Journalism Resource Guide on Behavioral Health – SAMHSA News

Book Review: The Storm of Sex Addiction

The Storm of Sex Addiction: Rescue and Recovery
Connie Lofgreen, MSW, CSAT

I recently sat down with Connie Lofgreen’s 2012 book: The Storm of Sex Addiction. The book masterfully weaves together Lofgreen’s clinical perspective, research data, case vignettes, and ideas for family, couple & individual growth. It’s clear from the start that the author cares deeply for her subject area, and for the people and families who are are impacted by sex addiction.

stormEach of the four parts of Lofgreen’s book has something to offer for the reader, whether a worried partner, a therapist wanting to expand his or her understanding of this area of intervention, or an individual struggling to understand the forces that drive addictive behavior within sexual encounters.

Section One sets the context for the remainder of the book. The prevalence of the problem, and its destructiveness are delineated. Repeatedly, we see the personal, relationship, career and family impacts.

Section Two lays out the context and environment that contributes to the development of high-risk behaviors – that lead, over time, to addictive patterns, rituals, and the disruption of a healthy life. Lofgreen draws together several important threads: trauma & attachment theory, the easy availability of internet sources of sexualized communication and imagery, and the progressive and destructive decline of mental and physical health that results. This is a useful and thought-provoking overview!

Section Three addresses a number of critical elements focusing on treatment and recovery. The reader will come away with an understanding of Lofgreen’s own Starpro intervention program that she conducts in her Omaha, NE outpatient office. Addtionally, she sketches out a realistic collection of therapy and support that anyone who suffers sex addiction should anticipate to use in his or her recovery. You’ll come away knowing that there are no shortcuts.

Each element is explained for its value and benefit to the client. Of particular note, the partners and spouses of the sex addict receive valuable input to assess their own needs, and the viability of the relationship with the addict. Safety, and personal growth, is emphasized. Lastly, there is a chapter in this section that highlights the special category of the clergy – the needs of the addict, the addict’s family, and his or her congregation.

Section Four reprises the societal and technological realities that we face today – the same ones that allow us to work remotely and communicate across the world instantaneously also bring us the potential of isolation, avoidance, false intimacy, addictive responses and patterns, along with the degradation of self, career, and relationships we all need. Lofgreen outlines a framework for child growth, development and safety through engaged, thoughtful, intentional parenting.

The book closes with a useful collection of resources for anyone wanting to go deeper into the subject. For the addict and family, additional books and sources of help. For the clinician, the reader will find additional sources of material related to addiction, attachment, and training.

This book is very readable, interesting, and draws you in to learn more. Those struggling with understanding their own addictive behavior, family members of the addict, and therapists who encounter sex addiction in their own practices would all do well to open up this volume. The ideas are useful and digestible – I found them reprised in my thoughts as I saw clients while in the midst of reading. I’m sure that this will continue, as well.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Transforming Anxiety

Have you ever wandered around a bookstore?

If you’ve wandered around a bookstore, you’ve likely had the experience of picking up a book that you didn’t know existed. And, maybe, that book – now known to you – changed your life, or influenced it in a substantial way.

The same thing happens on the Internet. I’m looking for something, and bump into something that I didn’t know existed. But, that found thing is useful, or inspiring, or worthy of sharing with others.

Personal Transformation

Here’s a video from University of California Television. It features Martin Rossman, MD. He’s talking about neuroplasticity and retraining the brain with imagery, biofeedback and hypnosis/suggestion. It’s almost 90 minutes long. But not a moment wasted, I think.

Rossman suggests that we can begin to shift our thinking, to quiet down the inner storm of worry and anxiety. Here’s the video;

What’s your takeaway?

What’s Wrong with Me? – Autoimmune Disorders

What’s Wrong with Me? – The New Yorker.

 Chronic Fatigue

The link will take you to a compelling and informative article about one woman’s journey to find answers about her lingering chronic fatigue, sense of unwellness – and the difficulty of finding answers.

This is a long article, but worth your time.

Clearly, the author had a network of friends and family that stayed in touch with her throughout her long search for answers. As I read, I kept waiting for mention of a support group or a therapist. The author did spend a lot of time on the Internet looking for information and guidance – but didn’t seek out [it appears] mainstream counseling or psychiatry. Not a problem – but I can’t help but thinking that this might have been an added dimension to her recovery. To not feel so alone, to have a place to air out her thoughts and feelings.